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The Long Walk by Stephen King
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The Long Walk (original 1979; edition 1979)

by Stephen King

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3,021761,885 (4)90
Member:edgeworth
Title:The Long Walk
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1999), Edition: 1st, Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:dystopian, usa, maine, new hampshire, massachusetts, game show, contest, fascism, teenager, YA

Work details

The Long Walk by Stephen King (1979)

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English (71)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (75)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
“The whole walk seemed nothing but one looming question mark. He told himself that a thing like this must have some deep meaning. Surely it was so. A thing like this must provide an answer to every question, it was just a matter of keeping your foot on the throttle.”

Only Stephen King could write such a spellbinding tale of a bunch of boys doing nothing but walking.

The Long Walk has become something of a national pastime in America where every year, hundreds of teenage boys apply to compete. Only a hundred boys are selected to try to be the last man standing. The winner receives anything they could ask for. We experience The Long Walk through the eyes of sixteen year old Ray Garraty. We see firsthand (or sometimes the fallen ones name is murmured slowly along the lines that remain standing) as one by one, the contestants fall from exhaustion, pain, mental anguish, or because they simply fell below the required 4mph speed. He makes friends with several and is forced to see them fall to the hail of bullets when they’re given their third and final warning.

‘The lights filled the sky with a bubblelike pastel glow that was frightening and apocalyptic, reminding Garraty of pictures he had seen in the history books of the German air-blitz of the American East Coast during the last days of World War II.’
With references to the German air-blitz of the American East Coast and of 31st of April, it’s clear that the world The Long Walk takes place in is a twisted alternative version of our own. Other than that, this story is a very straight forward sort of tale that lacks any sort of supernatural or fantasy aspects. But it’s most definitely horror. Day after day of non-stop walking, catching brief yet unsatisfying naps while your feet continue propelling you forward, being forced to take a warning and possibly two so you can quickly go to the bathroom by the side of the road all the while guns are trained on the back of your head and spectators line the roads just for the possibility of being there to see the guns remove someone from the running.

It’s easy to compare this story to the multitude of preposterous reality competitions these days, but if you take into account that King wrote this during 1966-1967 when the war in Vietnam was raging, the correlation to war in general becomes apparent as well. The televised draft, the battle, and the mass deaths that seemed so very meaningless. There is of course also the fact that the one to remain standing isn’t ever actually a “winner”. After seeing the things that occurred in the competition, the victor is irrevocably changed.

The Long Walk is the second book written under the Bachman name but the first I’ve read. At the beginning of my edition, there was an introduction called “The Importance of Being Bachman” where he discusses exactly why he chose to write under a pseudonym, and of his displeasure when he was unveiled as being Bachman. It was an interesting take that I never considered before as to why a writer would choose to write under a pseudonym, but this beautiful line sums it up nicely.

‘…there’s a place in most of us where the rain is pretty much constant, the shadows are always long, and the woods are full of monsters. It is good to have a voice in which the terrors of such a place can be articulated and its geography partially described, without denying the sunshine and clarity that fill so much of our ordinary lives.’ ( )
  bonniemarjorie | Jul 29, 2015 |
What a strange and unexpected topic. Walking. One hundred boys walking. That's it. How do you make a story out of that? Well Stephen King does it, and - even after having read it - I can't begin to fathom how he not only managed it, but made it amazing. This was a great story with incredible characters, stories, settings, and emotion. I read an hour or two of it on the treadmill which made it all the better. ( )
  benuathanasia | Jun 8, 2015 |
best best best, short story. i loved it. soooo intense. ( )
  nmg1 | Mar 20, 2015 |
This was one of the most terrifying books I've read in a while. ( )
  tayitude | Mar 8, 2015 |
This was one of the most terrifying books I've read in a while. ( )
  tayitude | Mar 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Wielki Marsz
Jaka jest największa nagroda, którą można sobie wymarzyć? Wielu odpowiedziałoby pieniądze, sława czy władza. Ale jest coż ważniejszego od tych rzeczy. Największą nagrodą jest zachowanie życia. Taką właśnie tematykę podjął Stephen King w książce zatytułowanej "Wielki Marsz". Autor znowu zaskoczył czytelników głębią swojego umysłu. Stworzył bowiem opowieść wciągającą, alegoryczną i tonącą w mrocznym klimacie.

Tym razem S. King mocą swojej wyobraźni przeniósł czytelnika na start wyścigu. Meta natomiast znajduje się tam, gdzie padnie ze zmęczenia przedostatni z zawodników. Raz w roku do Wielkiego Marszu stają młodzi chłopcy z całych Stanów Zjednoczonych. Ich zadaniem jest maszerować tak długo, aż zostanie tylko jeden. Jeden, bo pozostali zginą, jeśli spróbują wycofać się w trakcie wyścigu. Trasa marszu biegnie przez ogromne połacie kraju, a młodzi zawodnicy muszą wędrować niezależnie od warunków pogodowych czy pory dnia.

"Wielki Marsz" S. Kinga opowiada o brutalnej i bezwzglednej rywalizacji. Cel może osiągnąć tylko jedna osoba, a śmiałków jest wielu. Czy w grupie znajdą się ludzie gotowi pomóc słabszym zawodnikom? Czy chęć przetrwania okaże się silniejsza niż ludzkie uczucia?

Wędrując śladem zawodników wyścigu, czytelnik posmakuje napięcia, jakie zbudował S. King. Zagłębi się w mroczny świat, w którym obowiązuje tylko jedna zasada. Za wszelką cenę iść do przodu i nie zatrzymywać się nawet na moment. Tylko wtedy osiągnie się cel podróży i zdobędzie nagrodę.

"Wielki Marsz" to książka dla wszystkich miłośników literatury grozy. Ale z pewnością i inni czytelnicy znajdą interesujące wątki w opowieści S. Kinga. Niewątpliwie domeną tego autora jest to, że potrafi dotrzeć do wielu odbiorców.
 
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Epigraph
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"Für mich war das ganze Universum leer, ohne Leben, ohne Sinn, ohne Willenskraft, ja, ohne Feindseligkeit; es war eine einzige, unermesslich große, todbringende Dampfmaschine, die in ihrer tödlichen Gleichgültigkeit vor sich herstampfte und mich Glied für Glied zermalmte. Ein ödes, düsteres, einsames Golgatha, eine Todesmühle! Warum waren die Lebenden, die dorthin verbannt waren, ohne Gefährten? Warum hatten sie ein Bewusstsein? Warum, wenn es keinen Teufel gibt - oder ist der Teufel etwa euer Gott?" - Thomas Carlyle
"Ich möchte jeden Amerikaner ermuntern, so oft wie möglich zu wandern. Es ist nicht nur gesund; es bringt auch Spaß." - John F. Kennedy (1962)
"Die Pumpe ist kaputt, weil die Vandalen den Schwengel mitgenommen haben." - Bob Dylan
Dedication
This is for Jim Bishop and Burt Hatlen and Ted Holmes
First words
An old blue Ford pulled into the guarded parking lot that morning, looking like a small, tired dog after a hard run.
Quotations
To me the Universe was all void of Life, or Purpose, of Volition, even of Hostility; it was one huge, dead, immeasurable Steam-engine, rolling on , in its dead indifference, to grind me limb from limb. O vast, gloomy, solitary Golgatha, and Mill of Death! Why was the Living banished thither companionless, conscious? Why, if there is no Devil; nay, unless the Devil is your God." - Thomas Carlyle
"I would encourage every American to walk as often as possible. It's more that healthy; it's fun" - John F. Kennedy (1962)
"THe pump don't work 'Cause the vandals took the handle." - Bob Dylan
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Every year, on the first of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as "The Long Walk." Among this year's chosen crop is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty. He knows the rules: that warnings are issued if you fall under speed, stumble, sit down. That after three warnings...you get your ticket. And what happens then serves as a chilling reminder that there can be only one winner in the Walk - the one that survives... (0-451-19671-6)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451196716, Mass Market Paperback)

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as ?The Long Walk.? If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as ?The Long Walk.? If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:06 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In a futuristic America ruled by ultraconservatives one hundred of the nation's hardiest boys must endure a five-hundred-mile marathon race in order to win fame and fortune

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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